Friday, November 6, 2009

Seattle-Diabetes and ... Redux: Boyhood Toys


Luck of the draw-That’s how it usually works. I spend tons of time in hotels all over the country and have become accustomed to really just going with the flow-acquiescing to whatever caliber-style of hotel and whatever venue my clients select for their conferences and meetings. I’ve probably lived through every nightmare scenario that business travelers encounter-save anything resulting in physical injury. I’d rather be home than on the road most times so I’m not real impressed with anyplace I’m billeted if being at home with LFG was an option.

The Wit hotel-last week in Chicago was nice. The boutique-ish hotels as I’ve shared, seem to be trying too hard with their marketing spiel of “concepts-experiences-philosophies and approaches”. The last time I was here in Seattle the W Hotel was host to my meeting. I love the W in San Diego and Chicago. The Seattle W is another example of trying too hard on the boutique front. My diabetes care project has me in a superb Seattle venue.

The Fairmont Seattle is an impressive venue. While the boutique hotels remain a bit adolescent in their declaration-their callout-their beckon to you for approval, the Fairmont is a Grand Dame who simply has to manifest presence possessed and your approval becomes instant. I haven’t read the word “experience” anywhere. Kind of reminds me of the old wisdom…. “What you are hovers above and thunders so-that I can’t hear what you say to the contrary”. The carpet was a nicer complement to my typical winter business travel uniform-blucher-brogues and cotton moleskin Cordings-not cold enough yet for flannel-specially when I'm preaching all day.

Ended up with a Suite-alas, with nobody to appreciate it with me.

How much of this decorative shit can I get in my suitcase?-It's all nicer than my house.

Flusser Houndstooth on the job again this week.


I think it was LPC who asked me to "deconstruct the horizontal striped sock thing". I'll do so in a post next week.


If you are gonna have pockets included in your bespoke shirt order-be sure to tart it up with a pleated version and "man of no consequence" monograms. Shut up.

One of my business partners was the kick-off keynote speaker for this meeting. Why him and not me? I'm still speechless and that's not like me. 
Just because he is a former F-16 Fighter Pilot and lead demonstration pilot for the United States  AirForce Thunderbirds-big deal.

Now that's some extry nice carpet ....no?


Boyhood Toys


Toad posted about his memorable summer and it began to evoke tons of my own memories. I had the quintessential “boy’s life” and my neighborhood had all the ingredients for adventure and trouble. Truly it’s a wonder that my buddies and I all survived. Come to think of it, we all survived the formative years in our neighborhood-albeit with the requisite broken bones-stitches etc. Road rash….ah….we always kept a patch or two skinned up.


I don’t see as many kids with serious road rash these days. I glimpse at the random knee or elbow adorned from time to time…usually from a playground spill or a soccer stumble but never the serious…lay down your bike in slide-half your forearm our outer thigh missing kind of a thing. I was the proud owner of at least 100 stitches, a broken leg and a broken arm before age 13. One other point-my parents were not overly indulgent. I started working as a young kid…typical stuff…paper route…mowing grass etc. 75% of every toy listed on this post included me contributing at least 50% towards the purchase price.

So Toad posts about his favorite summer and I got to thinking about all of the memorable vehicles that populated my childhood. Amazing that I could find photos of almost 100% accuracy to populate my story. Copyrights?

My first bike was a Huffy. Almost identical to this one. It came from Roses Dime Store and had training wheels-but not for long.

Mine also had an airplane on the front fender. Kind of like the lady on the bow of a pirate ship. But maybe different. I don't know.
My next bike was identical to this one. Three speed. Snoop-Dog would be proud. Treasure City was the purveyor of Ross brand of bikes. More precisely...The Barracuda. We had no big chain stores except Sears and their bikes were way to average for my gang. This was about the time of the movie Easy Rider and we all wanted choppers. I don’t know if I can pen the words to help you understand-visualize how we further “chopped” the forks on our bikes. We would find an old junk bicycle. We would take a hack saw and cut the forks off. We would then remove the front tire from our bike. Using a hammer or a brick, we would then hammer the extra forks onto the forks of our bike. No welding, no nothing…just hammer them on till they seemed secure. Eyeball the alignment between the fork tips. Reattach the front tire and alas, you were Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda. I was Peter Fonda. Parental supervision…most moms stayed at home in my neighborhood so there was plenty of it but somehow we got away with murder.
JUST went back online-can’t believe I found a picture to support my explanation. I think that one of my many trips to the emergency room was due to these forks coming off when I did a wheelie. After the Evel Kneivel movie with George Hamilton came out, we were jumping over anything that would get us airborne. Helmets? I don’t think there was a helmet in the entire town.

Then I graduated to the “English Racer”…or at least that’s what we called them. The Schwinn dealer in my hometown started carrying Raleigh bikes. My Raleigh Record was similar to this one. Except mine had the Brooks leather saddle that you had to break-in. You’re a_s got broken in before the seat did and this was way before padded shorts were available in my hometown. I learned about the Tour de France and guys like Eddie Merckx and Jacques Anquetil…this was long before America had any presence in the Tour. I think my first helmet was one of those leather strapped-spaghetti string thingies of that era. We started a bike club…fun times. The Raleigh was lighter than the Schwinns for sale in the shop but weighed a ton compared to the Trek and the Marin bikes that I ride today.
But alas, it was mini bike time the next summer. These things were death traps. Helmets? Still no helmets. The Keystone mini bike was a two-cycle engine instead of the Briggs and Stratton or Tecumseh four-cycle that was standard on most department store mini bikes at the time. The gas cap was the measuring cup for the two-cycle motor oil that was requisite. I was then and to this day, remain an imprecise guy. Some days my Keystone would be running a bit too rich and I’d essentially be spraying for mosquitoes in the neighborhood. Blue smoke and a lower engine pitch. Street legal? Police intervention? Ce qui? Do what daddy? When it ran lean, the pitch was higher. I blew the motor up after one summer. Don’t let those springs on the front forks fool you. These mini bikes had no shock absorbers. It was a tooth rattling ride.
My wealthier buddies had these Honda Mini Trail 50cc bikes. I was beyond jealous. We would congregate in the school yard. They would kick start their bikes. I had to pull a cord to get mine going...humiliating. They had three gears. One down, two up. I had none. Most of those guys never turned out to be sh_t. Serves ‘em right.
Ahhh…then there was the passing fancy called the Solex. I paid $215.00 of my summer money for one of these babies- my biggest regret. The Raleigh-Schwinn dealer had these for one summer. These were in and out of style around my town about as fast as the Nehru Jacket.The Yamaha Mini Enduro. 75cc of Motocross fantasy. There was no Motocross per se in South Carolina. But we read about California Motocross…bought a magazine or two and once again, our imaginations went wild. Throw $275.00 in with your imagination and Richbourgs Small Engine shop would sell you one of these. Four of us in my neighborhood each got one at the same time. Why do I remember the prices of these babies? …because I had to save my money to own them. My buddy’s dad…who was essentially my surrogate dad, made us kidney belts to wear when riding these bikes. Kept us “tight” in the solar plexus which is important when you are 13 years old and flabby around the middle.

Yes; by now we had helmets. Orange metal flake…from the sporting goods section at K-Mart. My town now had a K-Mart and the Sporting Goods department was pretty solid. Zebco fishing stuff etc. My helmet was identical to this one except mine had a clear bubble visor attached. There were no "child size" helmets at K-Mart in 1969. I looked like Atom Ant with this helmet on...it was as big as me. I swear but for the grace of God…paralysis and death.

Ok, now onto weapons.

We roamed Purvis’ woods (Remember Melvin Purvis-late of John Dillinger-FBI fame) shooting anything that moved with this arsenal.

The Daisy B.B. gun. My Uncle Doug supplied me with all of my firearms. He showed up at the hospital with this one when I was six. Based on the loot that my Uncle Doug provided, I would have volunteered for a hernia repair every six months.

The power in this baby was so minimal that you could see the arc of the B.B. as it blazed (ambled) across the horizon. I remember standing in R.R.’s front yard and shooting R.G. in the back with this gun. He had no shirt on and as I simultaneously realized that it was going to hit him and more significantly, I realized that my a_s was about to be grounded for life, I ran after the B.B. as it approached his back. I almost caught up with it. It hit him and he fell to the ground screaming. By then I was crying too. I sat on his back crying-picking the subcutaneous round out of his back with the flick of my fingernail, begging him not to tell. One stroke of my pediatric but panicked fingernail and the B.B. popped out. No blood. I think I gave him a bounty of stuff not to tell on me. My talking GI Joe with real life hair and beard-seven Frisbees-Major Matt Mason spaceman set and then later in life, I kept him supplied with good dope, still worrying that he’d out me for trying to kill him at age 9.


The Crossman 177 caliber break barrel pellet rifle. This one could kill you.

And finally, the CO2 pellet pistol. This one too, could end your life. If my parents had known about the power of this one and the Crossman rifle, they’d have taken them from me for sure.
I’ll end this drivel now. What a great trip down memory lane this one was. After this stage in my journey, it was girls, cars and more powerful bird guns. And no, I’m not a member of theNRA and for some reason, wouldn’t get on a motorcycle today on a bet.


15 comments:

ELS said...

Stealing fixtures and fittings from hotels?

Shame on you.

PS - I've got a terrifically fancy wastepaper bin from the drake in Chicago if you want it. Although you've probably already got one.

LPC said...

Oh god how MANY of those hotel ballrooms have I seen? The little pens lined up, the chlorinated water, the mints of you are lucky. The skirted tables...

Kathy said...

I enjoyed the stroll this time too. My older son races his bicycle and has Le Tour aspirations. I know from road rash.

Suburban Princess said...

That's one of the nicest suites I have seen in a long time!

When I was growing up we were shoved out the front door right after breakfast and told not to come back before dinner! No helmets, lots of bandaids. I feel sad for kids today who are wrapped in cotton wool and kept safe in their basements playing video games.

tintin said...

I wanted a Rupp but could only afford (halvies with the folks) a Fox mini bike. I still have issues about that.

Carried a daisy .45 BB gun in the Army on field exercises. Looked amazingly real in a holster. Left the real one back in the baracks- - didn't have to clean it and consequently could hit Hay Street before anyone else. Where I engaged the strippers in conversation about the Wolfe's, "The Web and the Rock." Most of 'em were English majors.

JoAnn said...

The suite looked nice-
The Boyhood Toys post is my all time fav.

Anonymous said...

...or you could put an eye out with one of those things.

Brian said...

When we were kids around here we use to play BB gun tag with the Red Riders that lasted up until someone got a fancy CO2 gun, then it was just to painful. Great memories..

gail, in northern California said...

I had forgotten how funny the lucky-to-be-alive-today" post was...I think I told you at the time, I picked many a pebble from my skateboarding son's knees. His escapades--also sans helmet, and we live on a hill! Sometimes a mom just has to look the other way.

Maybe someday you'll scare the bejesus out of us and write about your first shave.

ilovelimegreen said...

Nicest carpet thus far (except - of course) for those in Chez Maxminimus!

ADG said...

ELS...I have a shower curtain from the Drake.

LPC...kinda runs together doesn't it.

Kathy....road rash. I haven't had any in a while and hope to keep it that way.

Suburban....same here! "Don't come back till the street lights come on".

TinFour....This strippers were not English majors-Home Eco.

JoAn...Thanks!

Brian...yep-the CO2 boys were dangerous.

Gail...glad you liked.

LimeGreen...just rolled back into my carpets...they need cleaning!

Patsy said...

We got my stepson a Red Rider when he was about 11. We bought him the first box of BBs, then made him save up for the rest.

We'd hide in the kitchen and giggle while he and his friends tried to find old BBs in the yard.

Good times.......now I'm wondering if they ever shot each other.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

My folks always deemed BB guns as unsafe and I wasn't allowed one. My .22 stayed with my grandfather in the 100 acre woods. The first shotgun I hunted with was an ancient 10 gauge. I was all of about 11. Couldn't hear for three hours after I let both barrels off at a goose. And the bruise... But BB guns... nope far too dangerous.

I also remember the day my chain came off, my shoe or trouser caught in the sprocket and I went over the nose of my bike. From the neck up, I was just fine. Who needed a helmet? From the shoulders down I looked like ground meat with some shot left in.

The Leopard said...

Being a contemporary in age I too possessed all of these instruments of self destruction ( except I had the Mini-Trail 50)and loved every minute of my youthful adventurous life with them. The faded scars make for great conversation starters. Thanks for the wonderful trip down memory lane.

ADG said...

Leopard...the wealthier kids around the corner had the Mini-Trail 50's...you musta been one of 'em.

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